Detroit: We attended the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit on its opening day, January 20. A lot of the news stories leading up to the show were about autonomous and electric cars. But when we arrived at the Cobo Center that Saturday most of what we saw was…trucks.
GM, Ford, and Chrysler all had multiple trucks in their booths. As in other years, Ford has a separate, elevated area with 8-10 trucks. But in the main part of their display, there were more trucks. Perhaps manufacturers and consumers are concerned about the environment and about self-driving vehicles, but when the Ford F-Series outsells Toyota Camry and Honda Accord combined, manufacturers show what consumers are buying.
The good news for us diesel enthusiasts is that all three major manufacturers will be offering 6 cylinder, 3.0 liter diesels in their half-ton pickups in 2019. Mopar has been at this a while with the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, and that truck is new for 2018. It appears that they’re taking a gap year for the diesel, however, and it will be re-launched in 2019. General Motors will have a Silverado 1500 with an inline 6-cylinder diesel (originally destined for Cadillac) in 2019. The big news is that Ford’s 3.0 liter V6 diesel will be available in the F150 this Spring.
Sadly, diesels from other manufacturers, or the manufacturers themselves, were absent. BMW had no diesels in its display despite launching the 540d for 2018, and Mercedes has yet to announce any diesels for the current model year. Jaguar/Land Rover, who have diesels in most of its models, was absent from the show. Chevrolet did not show the new Cruze hatch with a diesel, nor did they have an Equinox diesel on display.
And of course then there’s Volkswagen. They obviously didn’t show any TDIs, but they had several 2019 Jettas in their booth. Reportedly based on the Skoda Fabia, the new Jetta is bigger, perhaps less-VW like in appearance, and designed to continue to improve VWs appeal to the mass market. The 1.4L TSI engine is coming back after being absent for 2018, and the car is larger inside than its previous generation. Unfortunately it also appears to be built more to a price than even its predecessor, which was criticized for its de-contented features and appearance. The new (last year) Tiguan and Atlas were also on display.
As usual, the most attractive displays (to us, anyway) were Audi and Mercedes. Mercedes showed an updated G-Wagen, and electric concept vehicle. And while Audi didn’t have any new models to show, their vehicles continue to attract large crowds. Much larger, for example, than BMW/Mini, where flat paint is still in vogue and odd color combinations (see the X-2 photo below) are more prominent than ever.
Other than diesel pickups, the new Wrangler (also expected to have a diesel in 2019), and a few other interesting vehicles like the Maybach trim level S-Class and the new Accord, the 2018 NAIAS wasn’t among the most exciting. But there are some beautiful and interesting cars and trucks out there, and internal combustion still appears to be king of the road.